Thursday, July 31, 2014

Hot temps, Hot topics. The BR 2014 Rescue Jam comes to town.

We rolled out another sold out Rescue Jam last weekend in hopes that our collective mind meld would work as well as it did last year to rejuvenate and inspire. How could it not? Rescuers flew in to Oakland from as far as Australia, Canada, Maine, Michigan, and Texas to think tank together. We met for two warm summer days of networking, sharing and soul searching in our quest to keep an updated outlook at the sometimes difficult work we do. Big Fat Group Photo (Thank you, Jesse Freidin Photography)

PHOTO Album from the event.

We enjoyed a smart, thoughtful crowd and passionate speakers. One of the most popular topics this year focused on using the Harm Reduction model as an effective approach to animal welfare work. Eliza Wheeler from the Harm Reduction Coalition rocked her talk, and has dozens of new fans digging through materials from this discipline, which calls for a balanced, non-judgmental approach to providing resources in order to secure incremental and small but forward moving changes. We'll be talking more about her message in upcoming months - It's just that good, and we learned so much. Thank you, Eliza.

Maggie McDowell outlined the trends that are leading to an increase in rescue hoarding in this country. Heads up rescue world, this hot topic needs our steady attention.

Dogs In Need of Space (DINOS) brainstormer Jessica Dolce had us laughing, nodding and applauding to her cartoon inspired message of responsible dog ownership. We adore this girl and her work and are still giggling about her happy-making presentation. Do yourself a favor and go check out her stuff. Jessica also did a compassion fatigue workshop for the tired and over-committed among us. Bless you, Jessica!

Lifetime activist Nancy Tranzow from ColoRADogs helped us learn about setting the stage for political change without lobbing grenades or alienating policy makers. Well done, Nancy.

We learned about creating sound contracts from Letti de Little, enjoyed author Ken Foster's view of frogs, dogs and deer (trust me, there's a connection), watched BR's Pit Ed classes expertly smooth 18 shelter dogs through real life drills, covered tips for dealing with the media, for creating a public outreach focus and we entertained common themes in round table discussions. After watching a vaccination clinic in action, hosting org Paw Fund found quick help for an unwanted pit bull puppy and off to Oregon he went with the lovely gals from Lovers Not Fighters. Nice work, ladies.

Not to be outdone, Natalie and Jenn from Prairie Pit Bull Rescue flew home with three dogs for their adoption program; two from Berkeley Animal Care Services and one from our Rescue Barn. Thank you, rock stars!

Writer Emily Douglas kindly shared the history and thinking that went into this blog - the Romance of Rescue - and graphic, which calls for a broader approach to rescue efforts.

Right: Jonny Justice with Ken Foster. Both boys share an affinity for enjoying friends, being playful and taking naps. A great lesson for this group of over achievers.

Tired and inspired. And yes, it's time to change this work up.

Did you know? Attendees expressed concerns about the 'Save Them All' message recently launched by Best Friends Animal Society. Many reported feeling fatigued by rescue demands and expressed a strong desire to create more balance by reducing the number of dogs they rescue in favor of shifting necessary resources to important public outreach missions. Most work a forty hour week in addition to carrying the responsibilities of rescue work, and some are looking at ways to create compensation for their leadership to help sharpen their focus and increase their group's effectiveness. Most use a diverse bag of training tools including prong collars, but to avoid time-wasting Facebook debates, most told us they no longer discuss training collars or techniques on social media. Most expressed a keen interest in collaborating, staying in touch with one another and - gulp! - coming back next year for another Jam.

Left:  "I heart boundaries." Best t-shirt at the Jam, as modeled by DINOS creator Jessica Dolce.

Throughout the presentations and breaks, we were schmoozed by the barn dogs and home boys Eddie and Elliot. We stayed up too late around the campfire comparing notes, laughing, venting and finding common ground on issues that keep us connected. If this Jam is anything like last year's event, we can expect to see and speak with many of these movers and shakers in upcoming months for both work and fun, and that's got us all looking forward to more. Mission accomplished!

Special thanks to our volunteer crew for helping us pull this larger than life event off:  Tina Broder, Connor Cook, Caroline Davis, Cindy Houser, Letti de Little, Kiem Sie, Sonya Cotton, Barbara Stanczyk, Andie Herman, Lisa Guerin, Leslie Smith, Charity and Jose Jara, Katie Dahlberg. Photos: Maggie McDowell. Great work everyone!


Anonymous said...

Wonderful pictures as always and I am glad there is a place for the overachievers (rescuers) to decompress and have fun and vent and try and make things better for themselves, the animals and for the public, whose lifestyles and needs are so varied. The only way to help these animals is to accept that there is not one right way of taking care of an animal, training it, vetting it, etc. There are many great ways to take care of or adopt out an animal or train an animal. People keep talking about the individuality of dogs which should extend to the individuality of the person who is adopting or rescuing, etc. There is more than one right way to do things. Life happens and well meaning people have bad things happen to them all the time. It's the unfairness of life. Don't overwhelm yourself with the whole picture but revel in each animal and the fact that they are going on to a good life and you helped get them there. When you let the whole picture of unwanted animals overwhelm you that is when you get people who hoard animals in rescue, foster or adopting because they think they have to keep doing more and more and lose sight of the quality of life of that individual animal. Thanks for dealing with and trying to address the tough subjects of the good and bad of helping animals. No one is perfect. We can't expect anyone to be perfect. It's a task no human can complete.

Donna said...

Great advice, anon. Thank you.

The Pit Bull Princess said...

Thank you for hosting this event - and sharing the information with those who could not attend. Workshops like these are critical to moving forward and making progress for the dogs. I hope to attend next year!